I recently bought my fifth mountain bike, a gorgeous Cannondale Scalpel Team Edition. Since it’s fairly new (2007 is very new for me) it doesn’t have mountain bike bar ends. That’s a new experience for me since literally every mountain bike I’ve ridden has bar ends attached to them in some shape or form.
I’ve already written an article about the reason bicycle bar ends have disappeared from every catalog for the last 20 years. But that doesn’t mean that the concept of mountain bike bar ends is obsolete.
Personally I think they look great on a vintage mountain bike, and they also make sense from a cycling perspective to add some extra leverage on those short flat bars.
I wouldn’t use them on riser bars, or any bars wider than 60 centimeters. In my book those two are the cycling equivalent of fashion no-nos.
Mountain bike bar ends are still being made, so between old and new versions, there are still quite a few to choose from. And I’ve made a list of what I feel to be the very best mountain bike bar ends worth your money. Here goes.
Syncros Steer Horns
Unlike traditional bar ends that slide over the bars and reduce a bit of width, the Syncros Horns are screwed into the bars using a wedge just like with a quill stem.
They came with my Koga Miyata Skyrunner Carbolite from 1991, and the slight curve upwards makes you feel like you’re in the drops, but in a far more comfortable and upright position. Mine also have foam covers to increase the comfort.
There are other mountain bike bar ends that are also curved, but these also extend backwards about 2 inches. This makes for a larger area to support the palm.
When going out of the saddle to climb, the bar ends’ length feels solid and is confidence inspiring to really throw back and forth, enabling you to use your entire body to get to the top.
They are rare vintage products, extremely hard to find, and probably really expensive if you do. But if you can find them, I recommend them wholeheartedly, because they are simply magnificent.
Probably one of the most well-known, and readily available bar ends, would be those from Ergon. They have been around for years and the Ergon GP3 is a fan-favorite for bikepacking, and touring.
It’s probably the best-known product from the German brand. The GP3 is a grip and bar end rolled into one. By extending the area of contact of the grip and adding the bar end, you have a much greater contact patch for your hands.
Cannondale Ultra Light
The most minimalistic mountain bike bar ends on the market, the Cannondale Ultra Light bar ends are true to their name being the lightest ones I can think of.
Available in silver and black, they were meant for cross-country racing, not for comfort. As such they are small, with a tiny clamp area that narrows towards the end.
Onza bar ends
The most classic mountain bike bar ends you can find have to be the ones from Onza. The brand is synonymous with bar ends from the nineties and basically started the whole bar end craze.
Although bar ends come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, the original Onza mountain bike bar ends were long with a sharp bend. This early design would be changed later on, since you’d basically never use the most forward position.
Although no longer made, both new-old-stock and used bar ends are still readily available on Ebay for anyone who wants to experience what once was the pinnacle of MTB bar end coolness.
Ritchey WCS bar ends
Tom Ritchey has lent his name to a lot of products including a selection of bar ends. The ones with WCS stamped across them are the best, coming in a number of shapes, including the ones shown here in both black or white.
They’re still being made as far as I know.
Pro Tip: Add Comfort with Silicone Bicycle Grips
On my Cannondale Killer V I’ve got a pair of original CODA Babu bar ends. I had a pair of ESI grips laying around I no longer used. They’re one of the best silicone bicycle grips.
Since I wasn’t using them anyway I decided to put them on the bar ends for added comfort. If you can use them as grips, you can of course use them for your mountain bike bar ends as well. And you can easily make them the correct length to fit your specific bar end.
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